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Democratic councilors step up call for passenger rail

November 14, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — It’s possible to bring passenger rail from Boston into New Hampshire for less than $5 million a year in state money, two Democratic executive councilors said.

Their proposal relies on $20 million in private investments, $64 million from the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, $78 million in federal dollars and $72 million in state costs. It would create two rail stops in Nashua and two in Manchester: one at the airport and the other downtown.

Executive councilors Colin Van Ostern, who is running for governor, and Chris Pappas said expanding rail into New Hampshire will spur economic growth and create jobs. Passenger rail service is a piece of Van Ostern’s gubernatorial platform.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster backs their proposal.

Efforts to bring rail into New Hampshire have been stymied by Republican lawmakers and executive councilors who have questioned whether it’s worth the investment. The councilors’ plan seeks $20 million in private investments to build the rail stations, similar to the state’s partnership with businessman Alex Ray to build visitor centers alongside Interstate 93 in Hooksett.

The project would be bonded over 20 years, with an annual debt service payment of $6 million. Part of that would be recovered through parking revenue and the creation of a tax increment financing district.

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